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Mobile Fix — September 28

The illustration of my TNN talk this week

newTV

The pace of change in new TV continues with AT&T explaining more about their plans with some interesting ideas about ad formats — including full screen ads when programmes are paused and shoppable ads. This is one of the key questions with newTV — what does advertising on the new platforms look like? And that’s closely tied to how the ad plumbing will work; are people able to ‘click through’ or respond in some way?

And will these formats and the plumbing be compatible across platforms? A strength of traditional TV is an ad made for one station works pretty much everywhere across the world — with time length the only real issue. Amazon seem to have seen an opportunity and are looking at developing proprietary tech.

An Adobe reports shows the current state of the US TV market with traditional TV look pretty healthy as brands still believe it is the most potent medium. But Adobe see data as key and talk up the advantages of Signal driven TV, pointing to a L’Oreal example where they targeted recent buyers of lipstick on TV. The new AT&T service also depends on blending data with inventory to delivers Signals.

Another big question is whose inventory — or programming — data gets deployed against? Weve in the UK suffered as they didn’t have the right inventory to use their data and smart ads against.

AT&T have sidestepped the issue by buying Time Warner and Oath has AOL and Yahoo. And Comcast are looking to combine their programing and audiences with the tech that Sky gives them — but as the FT points out, that’s an expensive bet

As the industry starts to experiment with new formats we need some big picture thinking. It’s worth reminding ourselves how we think ads work — this is a good summary — and also go back to the early days of planning to ask the question Stephen King though so crucial;

Precisely what do we want who to do differently as a direct result of the advertising?

If we look at the move to mobile advertising, we haven’t done a great job as largely we have bastardised ad formats from other media. The promise of Signal driven newTV can only be realised with ads that form part of the grammar of this new medium.

We know that targeting ads can be really effective — measured by rising click throughs on ecommerce ads in Facebook, higher complete video views and even lower channel switching with Sky Adsmart breaks. How will we prove the same for newTV?

Lots of new moves in content too — Cheddar are taking their trademark style into eSports with a news show on esports and gaming distributed on Twitch and Cheddar syndication partners. And Sorry for your Loss, one of the early shows on Facebook Watch is getting a really good reaction.

Murdoch

With the sale of Sky to Comcast and Fox to Disney, the Murdoch family is sort of out of the entertainment business. What they do next with all that money has to be interesting — few have a better take on media than they do. Whist the HBO show Succession seems to give some insight into the family, this Goldman Sachs interview with James Murdoch is really interesting. He talks about his career and there is some good insight on how he sees the industry.

On the podcast we mentioned last week Jason Hirschhorn talks about the Murdochs a lot and thinks they will end up with control at Disney and James as the next CEO. What the family have left — as well as a huge amount of cash — is all around live TV; Fox News and Fox Sports along with the recently bought rights to the NFL and WWE.

In the video Murdoch talks about how content can be used to build a platform — and their focus on rights that have appointment viewing will help. But the question is whose platform they build and how they drive up revenues from their current cable and satellite distribution partners.

Snap

Despite all the negative press Snap keep launching new products. It seems the ad business is underwhelmed by Snap and many prefer to just keep spending with the duopoly. But the DTC brands that drive an increasing amount of digital ads are more interested in sales than reach and Snap have a set of new products designed to making spending with them easier. These new catalogue and collection ads, and pixel tracking means that brands can sell direct from ads and have a clear idea of ROI.

And they build on this with their partnership with Amazon allowing people to identify products within Snap and click through to buy.

Agency models

Whilst clients have essentially just one objective — driving growth (yes its a huge generalisation but you know what I mean) the agency world has balkanised with every sort of specialists. Fix friend Neil Perkin has written a great paper on Evolving Client Agency Models for the smart people at the AAR and it’s good reading whichever part of the business you are in.

And a new Forrester report looks at how Media Agencies are changing — and we see the diminishing advantage of clout as key. When you act using Signals, quality of thinking far outweighs quantity of budget.

More generally, CMOs require more than buying clout. They see media as a significant opportunity to drive personalization, commerce, and growth. They constantly scrutinize the global media market for higher levels of accountability, additional performance capabilities and total transparency — not just buying power.

Media technology, data management, strategy and consulting differentiate. As large-volume players become outmoded and less effective, nimbler and more consultative media firms will lead the pack. Agencies that can provide business intelligence, the acumen to apply it, and leading technologies will position themselves to successfully deliver CMOs the growth they demand.

One of the trends covered in Neils’ report is inhousing and this report of the new Hut Group HQ underlines the point — they will have a Content Creation studio employing 2000 people. . When running Creative agencies have always worked to an Architect Builder model, with the best builder for a specific job sourced as a freelancer. That thinking has never been more appropriate. Agencies need to deliver value through thinking and the doing can be handled in house or off-shore.

One example of a great campaign is the new work for LVMHs iconic Rimowa luggage. A real partnership between Agency and the in house team, I liked the way this campaign has joined up media; for example the work dominated both the Guardian desktop site and the mobile one. That happens so rarely as people too often value the audience over the context.

Apple

The Apple acquisition of UK tech marvel Shazam has closed and they have announced the service will now be ad free. It’s a shame as the team there had managed to build a good business doing really smart mobile ads that were perfectly suited to the format. This piece by a former CEO is a good reminder of how innovative Shazam was.

Apple News is proving successful for publishers with a growing flow of traffic but the disdain which Apple sometimes seems to have for ads means no-one is making much money. This side of the Atlantic, ads within Apple News are sold by our friends at the Telegraph, so things may be different.

Within the many new features in Search that Google have announced, new stories become much more prominent through a feed on the Mobile home page. I still feel that Apple need to help their developer community and app ‘owners’ to monetise through facilitating advertising. Their AppStore search seems to be doing really well so we wonder when the learnings there get applied more widely; they have hired some good talent.

Quick Reads

More bad press for Facebook as the founders of Instagram leave and the WhatsApp founder tells of his problems. They all stayed quite a while after being bought so it cannot have been too bad. And when an ad business offers you a fortune for your app, despite it not having any revenue streams, being surprised at ads seems a little naive. A current Facebook exec isn’t that happy with the news presentation.

Another story looks at how Facebook seem to being using Shadow information for ad targeting, raising more privacy issues. Their video chat device is finally coming soon and Portal will feature Alexa voice control.

The Amazon event the other week announcing new hardware around Alexa was well received by Scott Galloway — who thought it more impressive than the Apple event.

With the news that Uber are circling Deliveroo to build their food business in Europe, it seems Amazon have made approaches as well. Given the issue here is who can utilise the workforce better, it seems Amazon have a better opportunity. Delivering parcels alongside Chicken Jalfrezi makes more sense than dropping passengers off while a Pizza goes cold.

And Amazon have a new retail store in New York, selling only goods that have a 4 star rating online.

More on the Google vision for the future of search announced on their 20th anniversary

DeepMind founder on Three Truths about AI

Darren Hermann of Bain Capital — and TMK alumni — has a great piece on DTC brands in his newsletter — a must read

Bloomberg have a good look at US ad spend and as well as commentary on digital making 50% of total ad spend, note that the resilience of traditional TV is driven by political ads.

Two of the smartest US VCs on a podcast about Tech Trends

More good stuff on growth from Andrew Chen looking at the different stages

Finally, two quite different podcasts are worth a listen. Hollywood agent Mike Ovitz talking to VC firm A16Z t and UX guru ( and Google Product Director) Luke Wroblewski talking Mobile First

TMK

I enjoyed the TNN speaking gig and met some interesting people; next week talking at Global. The news that The Media Kitchen parent company KBS is merging with Forsman and Bodenfors has caused a few conversations. The reputation of F&B is great and with the new Creative Collective, the Digital Transformation skills of our friends at Albion and our Media expertise we can help any brand accelerate growth.

Next week we kick off a new project with a MNO looking at how they will best service their customers over the next 5 years, so an interested deep dove in what omnichannel will look like.

If your business needs world class thinking — Strategy, Creative and Media — lets talk. And I will be in New York in a few weeks so looking forward to catching up with some old and new friends

Fix is my thinking rather than that of MediaKitchen. We now have over 6000 subscribers across Google, Facebook, Snap, Amazon etc as well as many VCs, Brands and Agencies.

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